The New York Giants are in a bit of hot water after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and it’s not just because they lost. Saquon Barkley is the team’s best player, but he has been forced to take a backseat due to poor play from Eli Manning.
Saquon Barkley is forcing the New York Giants to reluctantly accept a harsh reality. The Giants are in desperate need of an offensive weapon, and Barkley will be their best option by far.
When the New York Giants picked Penn State running back Barkley, Saquon second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, they were undoubtedly thinking about their own Barry Sanders.
If that’s what the Giants envisioned, the team was still alive and well in 1989. Conventional wisdom and current trends did not deter the team from selecting a running back with such a high selection. However, one of the NFL’s oldest teams is on the verge of feeling a growing pit in its stomach over its fourth-year running back.
Saquon Barkley’s recovery from a knee injury is going slowly for the Giants.
You’d be excused for forgetting that Barkley did, in fact, play last season. Before injuring his ACL in a Week 2 defeat to the Chicago Bears, the explosive running back tallied 34 yards on 19 attempts, a dismal 1.8 yards per attempt.
Barkley is still on his road back almost a year later. In mid-August, he returned to practice and has lately started participating in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills.
Barkley told the Giants’ official website that he is eager to return to the field. The Giants did not let the 24-year-old running back to participate in any preseason games.
“I’d want to be struck once more.” It’s not only the hitting for me; it’s just playing football. Even though I just did two repetitions in seven-on-seven, those reps are very important right now and will benefit me in the long run.”
The Giants have not announced whether Barkley will play against the Denver Broncos in Week 1 as of publishing.
The Giants may eventually have to admit they made a mistake in selecting Barkley so high in the draft.
The New York Giants are having trouble with Saquon Barkley’s rehabilitation from a knee injury | Nick Cammett/Getty Images
In 2018, Barkley did all he could to quiet his detractors, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns in 16 starts. He also racked up 721 yards and four scores on 91 catches.
Those skeptics, on the other hand, were never going to go away that easily. The once-common sight of running backs entering the NFL Draft early has gone the way of the dodo. In the 2010s, teams learned that selecting a potentially game-changing running back in the second or third round rather than within the top 20 choices made much more logistical and financial sense.
Consider the NFL’s top current running backs right now. Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints was drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Later that year, the Green Bay Packers picked Aaron Jones in the second round. Derrick Henry, a second-round selection in 2016, was a member of the 2,000-yard running club last season with the Tennessee Titans.
All were hired on low-cost four-year contracts that were subsequently extended. The Giants may not even re-sign Barkley after the 2022 season, depending on what happens with him. After missing time in 2019 due to an ankle ailment, he had a disastrous start to the 2020 season before tearing his ACL.
Despite Barkley’s outstanding first season, the Giants must eventually face the possibility that they made the incorrect decision. Instead of opting for the flashy choice, the team could have taken Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who was selected four rounds later and has since become an All-Pro player for the Indianapolis Colts. Which one would you prefer? A knee-injured running back or a three-time first-team All-Pro guard?
Barkley has plenty of time to disprove his detractors.
Look at Barkley’s age: he’s just 24 years old. At that age, he’ll play the whole 2021 season unless the Giants make it to Super Bowl 56 as the NFC’s representative.
Giants supporters should be optimistic because of his age and expertise as an explosive weapon, but we’ll let others decide whether or not such emotions are justified. If he runs for 1,100 yards and averages 4.5 yards per carry this season, the decision won’t seem as terrible as we think.
Victories, on the other hand, are crucial. Despite the Lions’ lack of success, history remembers the Sanders pick favorably due to the All-Pro running back’s supremacy and the NFL’s tendencies at the time. Running backs started early in the season and carried the ball over 300 times.
People will always be critical of Barkley’s decision until he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame or becomes a great running back who helps the Giants reach the playoffs every year. The Penn State graduate is under pressure to start working on proving his detractors wrong.
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